As someone who grew up near Oakland, I found myself sticking up for the city in later years because everyone seemed to say “but the murder rate! All those gangs! You’re a girl, don’t be alone at night!” And while I have never lived in Oakland proper, some dear friends do and I’ve been exposed to some of the greatest people and artists over the years who are putting Oakland on the map for a variety of things, that aren’t dark at all.
So I guess that’s why it hurt my heart to hear about the Ghost Ship fire over the weekend. Luckily, I didn’t know anyone personally who is still missing or perished. But I know full heartedly that I could have. It could have been friends. It might have been me if I decided to not be an old woman or if I was more involved in the community.
But the fact of the matter is that we lost 36 people to that fire Friday night. 36 artists, 36 beautiful human beings, 36 people died because of code violations and inadequate access to safe spaces to celebrate art, community, and a Friday night with friends. Nobody should be lost to something that should have been made safe, up to code, and lack of access.
I’m no scholar on this and I’m still learning. So if anyone directly affected with this tragedy can correct me on wording I’ve used, please let me know in the comments. In the mean time, if you are able, please donate here to help cover medical bills, funeral costs, etc for the victims.
In the mean time, as always, you matter. Your story matters. Your life matters. And I am so glad you are still here.